Experimental Legal Methods in the Classroom


As legal research and scholarship are increasingly turning to interdisciplinary approaches, the question arises as to how to introduce quantitative research techniques to a student population usually unfamiliar with empirical methods. We argue that classroom experiments form an effective — and, from the perspective of students, attractive — way to teach law students the logic of empirical inquiry. Many questions and controversies on and around adjudication and the impact of legal regulations hinge on matters of beliefs and behaviour which experimental methods are well-suited to investigate. Moreover, experimental legal research is fairly intuitive and does not require advanced statistical knowledge. Thanks to modern software tools, experiments can be conducted and analysed in the classroom without much prior technical knowledge. We provide basic guidance on how to undertake in-class experimental legal research and discuss examples of in-class experiments on gender effects, anchoring effects and neutrality bias.

Utrecht Law Review